Pride Month will mark the anniversary and spirit of the Stonewall uprising | Opinion

Our nation faced its greatest crisis with the Civil War. Following the battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches, calling for “a new birth of freedom.”

After multiple years of political and social attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, with the coming of Pride Month and celebrating the Stonewall Uprising’s 55th anniversary, we, too, are preparing for a “new birth of freedom” and a rethinking of our place in society.

For those who don’t know, the six-day Stonewall uprising began in the early morning of June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The rebellion that ensued, as the patrons rebelled against police mistreatment, represents the most public turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement in America.

Today, the courts have brought perspective back by rebuffing the most egregious legislation. The public’s support of friends and family in the queer community by calling out the “culture warriors” on school boards, at the Department of Health, and in the legislature gives us hope in our struggle for full equality.

With Pride events taking place around the world and across Florida, we have a unique opportunity to invite everyone to join under the rainbow flag.

Queer people live everywhere. We are in every religion, ethnicity, nationality, and every community. Pride provides an opportunity to unify a divided nation by bringing our friends and neighbors under this universal banner.

The colors of the rainbow are for everyone, and welcoming people, no matter who they love, to Pride builds bridges where we celebrate what we have in common rather than focus on differences.

Stonewall National Museum, Archives & Library in Fort Lauderdale, a treasure in South Florida, collects the stories of those who the culture wars have long targeted, but also holds stories of those who have been liberated.

It holds the stories of the long-closeted and the newly freed, so as we decide what kind of state and nation we hope to build from the ashes of the culture wars, we need to examine our past as it is the best way to understand how we got here and what we need to do to move forward.

This Pride Month, visit Fort Lauderdale’s replica of the 1969 Stonewall Inn, where the liberation movement began in New York 55 years ago.

Then the public is invited to join us on June 29th for the first reenactment of the Stonewall Uprising and make history as Florida turns from being ground zero, known for its attacks on the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities, into the home for a “new birth of freedom” for all.

So often, we move on without learning the lessons of history. Today, we have an opportunity to change that. There is a great deal to learn from the handling of COVID-19 and the barrage of anti-gay policies and legislation that have arisen in recent years.

By taking time what has occurred, we can construct a more resilient future without fear and prejudice and with the social and cultural infrastructure needed for the 21st Century.

If we learn anything from our immediate past, it is that dividing us is easy, but our strength comes from unity and shared purpose.

Florida juts into the Atlantic Ocean like the great torch of the Statue of Liberty juts into the New York skyline.

It is time for the people of Florida, newly arrived and longstanding, to light the way, creating a new vision for what a new birth of freedom can be.

Robert Kesten is the Executive Director of the Stonewall National Museum, Archives & Library in Fort Lauderdale at 1300 East Sunrise Blvd.. robert@stonewall-museum.org www.stonewall-museum.org

Robert Kesten, director of Stonewall National Museum, Archives, and Library, is photographed inside the library near the Ross Gallery where Beau McCall’s Rewind: History on Repeat is on display on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
Robert Kesten, director of Stonewall National Museum, Archives, and Library, is photographed inside the library near the Ross Gallery where Beau McCall’s Rewind: History on Repeat is on display on Thursday, June 8, 2023.